If you’re over 50 chances are good it’s happened to you before. You misplaced your keys, forgot an appointment, or lost your car in a parking lot and you had the terrifying thought, “Could this be the first sign of dementia?”
We’ve known for years the best way to eat keep our hearts strong, the right foods to choose to keep our joints sturdy and even what we need to do to help maintain our muscles as we age. But when it comes to our brains, it’s always seemed like little more than a roll of the dice.
Until now, that is.
Stay sharp as a tack with brain-building foods
Research has revealed that just like your diet can help protect you against heart disease or cancer, it can also arm your brain against Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline.
And you won’t need to go out hunting for weird foods or exotic herbs you can only find in specialty stores.
In fact, you’ll find the foods you need to fight Alzheimer’s right in your local grocery store.
1. Leafy greens:
Fill up on greens. It doesn’t matter whether you go nuts for turnip greens or crazy for kale, just make sure you’re getting at least one to two servings of leafy greens a day.
In one study, older folks who ate the most leafy greens had the cognitive abilities of people 11 years younger!
Over time our cells develop free-radical damage, causing us to age. But free radicals are particularly bad news for your brain. They cause oxidative damage, which can harm your memory and raise your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
That’s where the veggies come in. Vegetables are natural free-radical fighters. So to help fight memory loss load up on the entire rainbow of veggies from red tomatoes purple eggplant.
A handful of nuts provides plenty of antioxidants, fiber and healthy fats—three of the most important contributors to brain health.
In a large University of California study, walnuts—which are high in the omega-3 fatty acid DHA—were associated with better memory, concentration and thinking speed. And almonds and hazelnuts are a great source of vitamin E, which can reduce your risk of age-related cognitive decline.
Snack on a small handful of nuts several days a week to help keep your memory sharp as a tack.
Fruit is filled with plenty of good-for-you vitamins and minerals, but when it comes to fighting Alzheimer’s it turns out berries may be best.
Berries are rich in several brain-friendly nutrients called polyphenols including…
These polyphenols have been shown to help improve memory, as well as our ability to learn new things. Blueberries and strawberries are especially good at protecting cognitive function. Aim for a minimum of two servings of berries per week.
Pintos, kidneys, great northern… name a bean—any bean—and you’re also naming a brain-friendly food. Studies show diets that are brimming with vegetables, including legumes, support brain health and memory, and slow cognitive decline.
Beans are rich in vitamin B, which your body needs to make the neurotransmitters your brain uses to communicate. Throw them into salads, toss them into soups, or simply serve them up on the side with some hot sauce. However you prepare them, eat beans at least three times a week for best results.
6. Fatty fish:
Eat more fatty fish such as salmon. It’s all about the omega-3s with this one. Your brain thrives on them. In fact MOST of your brain is made of fat, and around 60 percent of it is the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. Study after study has shown that our brains function better when they are getting plenty of omega-3s. For example, in one study, folks taking a DHA supplement had significant improvements in their memory and reaction times.
Our brains naturally shrink as we age, and this can begin to affect our memory and cognitive function. But omega-3s can actually INCREASE the gray matter in our brains! Eat at least one serving of fish per week to get the brain benefits.